We all have at least one friend or family member that is obsessed with coffee. Gift-giving can be hard when you want to delight an expert while you yourself might not the most knowledgeable. Coffee is a broad subject! You don’t want to just give your friend another mug. You also shouldn’t pick up any random gizmo or machine for them because they probably already have it or don’t want it. These gifts are unique enough that your coffee friend won’t already have them. And they are LOVED by coffee enthusiasts across the board. The best thing for you is that they can cost little to no money.
1. Old Mill Coffee Grinder
These are great hand-cranked coffee grinders that were the norm in years-gone-by. I personally have given and received them as gifts, and they are always a hit. They are beautifully designed and small enough to display anywhere in the home as a conversation piece.
They work by putting the beans in the metal hopper on the top, then cranking the handle to work the burr grinder. The grinds then come out of the little drawer in the bottom. They work fine for grinding (in fact as a burr grinder, many would argue they are superior to popular electric blade grinders), but the manual aspect of cranking the handle can be time consuming. The grinds are usually on the coarser side which is ideal for french press but not so much for espresso. So whether or not the gift recipient will ever need or use this grinder, they will treasure it for its historical and visual significance.
These grinders are so interesting. The wood is a wonderful juxtaposition from the usual stainless steel kitchen appliance. Many people have never seen them before, and it’s so fun to explain what they are and how they work!
There are many different types of these antique style grinders online. You can find them made of all kinds of wood, metals, inlays and custom paint designs. They are not readily available in any big box stores, however. The good news is these coffee mills were so prevalent, well-made and durable, that you can still find used mid-century pieces for sale. You just have to put in the leg work and visit your local thrift/consignment/antique store.
2. Coffee Bean Subscriptions
You know not to go out and get any old coffee product for the “expert”, because generally they will already have it or not want it. Having said that, quality coffee beans are something that EVERY coffee fan needs more of. Even if this person has 20 pounds of their favorite, special, $50.00/lb, microlot coffee beans, no one will turn down more coffee! And who doesn’t love the treat of surprise beans in the mail?
There are many coffee subscription services available currently. I did some research for you though, so you will have the best deal when picking one.
There are many companies who will leverage the fact that they deliver to your door to charge you 150%-200% more for the same coffee. After some browsing I found Driftaway Coffee, who fit all the needed criteria:
- Free delivery.
- Customizable bean roasts, and subscription times. One sampler, three months, or six months available.
- Single origin and fair trade coffee.
- Freshly roasted. These are roasted in Brooklyn, NY within a week of being delivered to you.
- Volume: You will receive 22 ounces of beans per month, NOT including the sampler pack. That is enough coffee to satisfy even the the habitual drinker.
- PRICE: These are high quality beans that are very affordably priced. If my math is correct, the price of the service at the time I am writing this works out to $0.77 per ounce of coffee. Many craft coffee will be priced at least $1.33 per ounce. (Click here to view current pricing.)
3. The Art of Burlap Coffee Bean Bags
Did you know that before coffee beans are roasted, they are stored and shipped as dried green beans in awesome burlap bags with gorgeous artwork? The bags are about 28 x 40 inches. They can showcase logos, text and art specific to the roaster, farm or region where the coffee is grown. I have collected dozens over the years, and I always make use of them!
These bags are so eye-catching and add an authentic, natural feel to where ever they are displayed. You might have seen them before. Or you could be asking yourself, what are some big scratchy bags going to do for me? The answer to that is whatever you want. They are a fantastic medium to use for many easy crafts.
- My go-to way of showcasing these bags is to mount them and hang them. You just need a piece of cheap plywood, particle board or even cardboard/poster board that is several inches smaller than the bag itself. Usually about 23 x 35 inches. Cut the bag along the hem so you have two separate sides (the bags are usually printed differently on both sides). Place one of the burlap sides face down on a table or floor, then place the wood on top in the center. Pull the burlap and staple the overflowing few inches to the “back side” of the board. Make sure you do all sides and corners sharply, almost like wrapping a present. Now you have a great piece of art ready to be hung! You can also use it as a bulletin board to hold notes and pictures with push pins. Since each bag has two printed sides, go ahead and make two boards.
- The bags can be used like fabric. Even if you aren’t an expert seamstress, you can make a simple tote out of the bags by cutting the main faces into smaller rectangles. Sew or hot glue the sides and bottoms together with the outsides face to face. Turn it inside out and push out the bottom corners so they are angles. Use extra material to make a handle.
- Cut the bag’s fabric down to the same size of cheaply bought, plain place mats or coasters. Use a hot glue gun to apply the burlap over them and you’ll have matching coffee-themed table wares.
These are just a few ideas, but I know you are creative enough to think of others.
And did I mention that these bags are DIRT CHEAP? They are actively used to store and ship millions of pounds of coffee. For sale, each bag should only cost a few dollars. But you can reach out to nearby roasters and ask for some, for FREE. At one tour of a local roasting facility, they had a huge pile of these discarded on some pallets after they were emptied. You can bet they offered us some and we took as many as we wanted. I even got some limited seasonal single origin bags with really cool art on it.
4. Coffea Arabica
Did you know the coffee beans we drink come from a gorgeous tree, the coffea arabica? Although they only thrive near the equator, many people keep them as houseplants for their serrated, interesting foliage. I have kept one alive indoors for a couple years, and I live in New England! They do require some basic plant knowledge, but anyone can keep one.
Coffee beans are ground, brewed and sipped, but that’s a fleeting experience. How would you like a sweet plant to keep and grow, knowing it ties to your daily coffee ritual? Getting someone a small coffee plant is CHEAP (usually five to ten dollars) and is a gift that will stand out. They may not be able to grow their own beans anytime soon, though. Coffee plants need to be at least three years old until they flower. They can be put in a cute pot and displayed in a bright window where they can be admired daily, even without providing fruit. I keep mine indoors most of the year. You can put it outside on your patio or lawn when temperatures are above 65 degrees.
These plants may be tricky to find in any retail plant store, but you can check any special greenhouse or nursery near you. They are available to order online any time, though!
5. Not Just Any Old Can(isters)
The next idea presented is technically a coffee accessory, but one that is often overlooked by fans. The 12 – 16 ounce bag that coffee usually comes in is designed with much thought put into it. It has a little gasket that lets the gasses escape the beans, but no air can go in. It is made from an insulated, airtight material. It has appealing colors and artwork that look good on your kitchen counter. But guess what? After you open the bag, it is so annoying to close again! It has this twist tie-type strip that secures the top of the bag, which you roll over like a lazy attempt to close a bag of chips. Opening the bag, getting your beans, and doing your best to close it still leaves the beans vulnerable to air. When beans are exposed to too much air they oxidize and their flavor decreases. So much effort went into picking those cherries, washing them, drying and roasting them to perfection, and storing them airtight so they are fresh as possible when you get them. Let’s try to keep the effort going.
Having said this, I and other coffee lovers I know aren’t that great at decanting the beans into a better container. I just brush it off an extra step I’ll get to someday, or I put the beans in a bland plastic quart container that once housed Chinese food (good enough, right?). This is why a good coffee canister is the perfect niche to get your friend. A quality airtight container can look sleek in your kitchen, and keep your beans fresh.
I did some research to provide you with a couple of good examples.
This Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. remember to personalize the gift you’re giving for the recipient. Houseplants may not be for everyone, but I guarantee that there is SOMETHING on this page that can be! The old adage being, “it’s the thought that counts”, don’t stress too much about your gift-giving. Although, the feeling absolutely nailing a gift for someone is better than almost anything.